Spring football is here; is Arizona better than seventh in the Pac-10?by Anthony Gimino on Mar. 05, 2010, under Sports
Last impressions matter, which is why expectations are again rather modest for the Arizona football team, which begins spring practice Friday.
The last time we saw the Cats on the field it was as if they weren’t on the field at all. With that 33-0 stink bomb against Nebraska, the perception of Mike Stoops‘ program went from “program on the rise” to “who are they again?”
That Holiday Bowl loss — combined with the departures of both coordinators, and tight end Rob Gronkowski‘s decision to enter the NFL Draft — has given anybody making preseason predictions reason to be bearish on the Wildcats, who were 8-5 last season.
ESPN.com’s Ted Miller picks Arizona seventh in his spring power rankings. He writes:
The Wildcats must replace 12 starters and two coordinators. That’s a lot of turnover. On the plus side, quarterback Nick Foles has a lot of skill around him and defensive ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed could be the best pass rushing combo in the Pac-10.
CollegeFootballNews.com has Arizona eighth in the league in its pre-preseason rankings, although the writing staff was fairly optimistic in its writeup:
While the Holiday Bowl dress down gave Arizona a sobering measuring stick, the program has to like where it’s headed. Back-to-back postseason invites have done wonders for its psyche and its ability to recruit throughout the West. There’ll be losses on both sides of the ball, but nothing so devastating that the ‘Cats can’t keep rolling under head coach Mike Stoops. Another season with QB Nick Foles will help the offense, as will the return to health of RB Nic Grigsby. He’s too valuable to be in and out of the lineup, as he was throughout 2009.
I think both of those predictions are too low. But at this early stage, it’s not easy to pick among a muddled Pac-10 middle. Much like last season.
I spoke Thursday with the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta, who writes the Pac-10 report for Lindy’s College Football Annuals, picking the preseason all-conference teams and predicting the order of finish. His early thought on Arizona: Fourth or fifth.
As the Senior Editor of Lindy’s, I get to overrule whatever Condotta submits, but that sounds like an appropriate Arizona prediction to me.
UA FOOTBALL NOTES
Construction has begun on Arizona’s practice field, which is being extended to Sixth Street and will include areas of artificial turf. UA will have practice at the stadium and at Salpointe High School during the spring. … Former UA All-American and Jim Thorpe Award winner Antoine Cason was in attendance for Thursday night’s Arizona-UCLA basketball game. … Ex-UA cornerback Devin Ross had the second-best vertical jump among cornerbacks who worked out at the NFL combine. He had a jump of 40 inches. He ran about a 4.6 40-yard dash. … Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell helped himself with his combine workout. He was considered a “riser” by SI.com, which wrote: “Mitchell looked amazingly athletic for a defensive tackle who weighed in at 296. He was fast in the 40, twice breaking 4.75 seconds on stop watches, then practiced to that speed during drills.”